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Culture and the mode of thought: A review

Authors


Correspondence: Keiko Ishii, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Letters, Kobe University, 1-1 Rokkodai-cho, Nada-ku, Kobe 657-8501, Japan. Email: ishii@lit.kobe-u.ac.jp

Abstract

This review highlights studies examining cultural differences in the mode of thought. The theoretical framework of studies from a cross-cultural perspective suggests that views of self, social norms, communication practices, and modes of thought are interconnected. The independent view of self, dominant in Western cultures, promotes low-contextual communication and corresponds to an analytic and logical mode of thought. On the other hand, the interdependent view of self, dominant in East Asian cultures, promotes high-contextual communication and corresponds to a holistic and dialectical mode of thought. The expected cultural variations of the mode of thought have been supported by empirical findings regarding causal attribution, attention, reasoning, categorization, and comprehension of utterances. Moreover, it has become clear that cultural knowledge of ideas and beliefs, which are activated by linguistic symbols and icons, guides the corresponding psychological tendencies including analytic and holistic modes of thought. Furthermore, studies of cultural neuroscience have shown cultural differences in behavioural as well as neural responses. A growing body of research supports cultural differences in the mode of thought; however, there is still much room for this research area to progress. Future directions suggesting further investigations in relation to socialization, cultural products, and gene–culture interaction are discussed.

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